WAGE & HOUR LAW: MINIMUM WAGES

Minimum wage levels: What are they?
Federal law and the laws of most states require covered employers to pay employees a minimum hourly wage. Individual states that have adopted state minimum wage laws can set those rates higher, but not lower, than the federal level. Click on the link below to see the applicable minimum wage level in each state:
http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/america.htm

Can cities and counties impose their own minimum wage requirements?
Some cities and counties have passed what are commonly-referred to as "living wage" laws that set a minimum wage which exceeds the federal and particular state's standards. Again, where state and/or local minimum wage laws exist, covered employers are required to pay the highest amount among the applicable standards.

Do employers always have to pay by the hour?
Although the applicable minimum wage sets hourly wage levels, some positions are not paid on an hourly basis. For those positions, a variety of compensation models are available, such as salary, commission, wages plus tips, piece-rate basis or some hybrid of these methods. If you have questions regarding whether you are properly being paid on any of these alternative bases, we urge you to contact us for advice. To satisfy minimum wage requirements, the total amount paid under these models (when divided by the number of hours worked) should be at least equal to the applicable minimum wage. If not, your employer may be in trouble.

Are penalties available if an employer violates minimum wage laws?
Absolutely. If minimum wage laws are being violated, California state as well as federal laws provide strong remedies. These remedies may include payment of the difference between the wages actually paid and the wages that should have been paid, various penalties for non-compliance (such as doubling the wage loss amount), reimbursement for the costs of litigation, and attorneys' fees.

How do I prove my case if the employer doesn't keep adequate records?

Under California state as well as federal law, covered employers are required to maintain and provide records of their employees’ hours actually worked, otherwise significant additional penalties may apply. Under California law record-keeping violations can result in penalties of thousands of dollars, for each employee. These penalties can provide a tremendous incentive for your employer to maintain an adequate record of the hours you work.

The following questions and answers are for educational purposes only and cover just a few topics that are commonly of interest to workers. This material should not be construed as legal advice, the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, or as indicative of a particular outcome regarding any legal issue you might have.